Tag Archives: Canada

Stuff I Like: FloWorks Drying Rack

So much handwashing.  I have lamented the state of handwashing in my house now that my focus the past six weeks or so has been the reduction of single use plastics in things like school lunches.  What this really translates into is eliminating single use zipper style bags for sandwiches and grapes.  Two lunches equals four bags per day which works out to twenty bags per week.

Seven or so weeks into the school year and we have already saved approximately 140 bags from making their way into the landfill.  However, this has meant a change in the evening ritual.  For me it means an additional four things to wash by hand and leave to dry for the next day.  Unlike water bottles or coffee mugs, reusable bags are kind of a pain to wash and dry.  The drying aspect is especially troublesome.

Enter the FloWorks Drying Rack:

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This thing works and does not look like a refugee from a baby supply store.  It claims to be made from repurposed birch and ash wood and plywood scavenged from furniture makers in Canada.  Good on them, eh.

The whole thing also skinnies down to a cylinder that can be stored in a normal size utensil drawer:

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This is super handy when you are spending a day cleaning the kitchen counters and want everything out of sight.  I am not going all Marie Kondo in my kitchen, but I do love it when there is a place for everything and the clutter is eliminated.

It may not be the biggest change you make this year, but eliminating the disposal of plastic bags on a daily basis is a good place to make a dent in your consumption of single use plastic items.

Note: I purchased the FloWorks Drying Rack with my own funds and receive nothing in return from the manufacturer.  I also receive nothing in return from the linked store, which in this case is Amazon much to my chagrin.

Friday Linkage 8/30/2019

It is my belief that the last couple of weeks represent the turning point in the Donald Trump era of American politics.  Between proclaiming himself to be the “chosen one,” blatantly violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution by promoting his janky resort as a host site for a future G7 summit, and in general being an incoherent gas bag this is where the vast majority of the American public realizes that our time in the dark valley is near an end.

Perhaps it is the same across the globe as Brazilians realize their current leader is a corrupt profiteer, as Italians wake up from their decades long dysfunction to recognize the threat posed by nationalists, and as the United Kingdom comes to grips with the political calculus of Boris Johnson’s coup via the Queen.

Nothing is complete nor can anything be taken for granted, but within the next eighteen months I believe that we can put down this ugly episode like the diseased dog that is has become.

On to the links…

We Now Have the Technology to Create a Grid of Cheap Fully Renewable Electricity—These are opinions being written for sites like Forbes, Marketwatch, and CNBC.  This is hardly the opinion of green eyed dreamers anymore.  The reality is that the future is possible and it is incumbent upon us to demand that it happen soon.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Issue Largest Clean Energy Procurement to Date; Aim to End Coal Use, Replace Oil—Hawaii, due to its remote island location, is the United States’ energy lab for the future.  When Hawaii goes 100% renewable it will provide the blueprint for the rest of the country and, by extension, the rest of the world.

Energy Lobbyists Changed Politicians’ Official Letters Supporting Gas Project—To get to the ideal future we are going to have to deal with the fact that legislators and regulators literally have fossil fuel lobbyists write the opinions on projects.  This is not politics.  This is corruption.

EPA Plans to Abandon Regulations on Methane Emissions, Reports Say—Industry is breaking with the Trump administration on this and other proposals because they realized that the backlash that is coming is going to be brutal.  It will be even more so due to the Trump administration’s brazen gutting of anything that even looks like it might be beneficial to the environment.  What incentive does a Democratic lead government have to help an industry that was so in bed with Trump?  None.  Furthermore, the logic the Trump administration is using to gut these regulations works in reverse so the change will be quick, fierce, and dramatic when change comes to the White House.

These Are the Cities That Should Be Worried the Most About Climate Change Disaster—Is it any surprise that Florida is at risk and not prepared?

Can Solar Panels Handle the Heat of a Warming World?—It is a valid question, but does it really matter in a world where we need to stop burning fossil fuels?

The $30 Billion Exodus: Foreign Oil Firms Bail on Canada—The “smart” money in the investment community is turning against oil and gas investments that are seen as vulnerable in a world where there is an emerging political consensus to keep the dirtiest fossil fuels in the ground.

Coal Sector Outlook Drops from ‘Stable’ to ‘Negative’: Moody’s—Despite the Trump administration’s best efforts, which is really about the same as your kid putting all his toys under the bed when he “cleans” his room, coal is seen as a loser by people who actually have to put their money where their mouth is.

Australian Thermal Coal Exporters Warned of Falling Demand from India—India was the great hope of the Australian coal industry, but a softening global economy will reduce demand.

Offshore Oil and Gas Rigs Leak More Greenhouse Gas than Expected—The story about fossil fuel emissions is much more complex than just what is released when these fuels are burned to produce energy.  At every stage of production and consumption there is a contribution to the emissions of potent greenhouse gases.

The Surprisingly Great Idea in Bernie Sanders’s Green New Deal: Electric School Buses—Why is this not a standalone idea for all potential Democratic presidential candidates?  The benefits are well established and this could serve as a seed for a wider adoption of electric commercial vehicles.

‘World’s First’ Solar-Powered Rail Line Opens in the UK—I actually believe that there is a short line railroad in Australia that beat the Brits to the punch, but who is counting amongst friends?

This New York Agency Cut Its Energy Usage By 40%, & So Can You—Now, imagine a world where we took the initiative to reduce our energy usage by 40%.  It’s not hard and the tools exist.   All that is lacking is will.

How Copenhagen Plans to Reach Carbon-Neutral Status in Just Six Years—I applaud just about everything that happens in Copenhagen, but what I really want to know more about is this place:

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Betting the Farm on Drought—As a group, farmers may lean toward conservative politics and not be great believers in the science behind climate change.  However, the reality on the ground is forcing farmers across the world to figure out what adaptions must be made in a changing climate.

Getting Coral To Reproduce—Is there going to be a time when the default question about music to get animals into the mood does not involve the smooth baritone of the late Barry White?

Friday Linkage 6/22/2018

This is the future of coal in the United States:

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Now, we need to figure out how to get India and China off that crack.

On to the links…

Solar Just Hit a Record Low Price In the U.S.—Remember, once the solar plant is built the fuel is free.  If costs for natural gas go through the roof like they have in the past this solar system will be chugging along producing power for the same cost.  At least I started off with some good news.

World on Track for 50% Renewables by 2050—Not every headline was ugly this week.  We can all hope that this projection is true or, given the nature of past projections about renewable energy, somewhat conservative:

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Solar Is the Future. Donald Trump Tied a Bow on It and Gave It to China.—Thank Donny two scoops.   It is my belief that the dynamic market in the United States still has the potential to be the innovation leader over China in this space because China is operating from a command economy model that tends to reward inefficient legacy players.  We can hope.

For Pruitt Aides, the Boss’s Personal Life Was Part of the Job—When the final accounting is done on the Trump Administration the level of grift and corruption is going to astound historians for decades.  That is if our democracy survives another couple of years of this shit storm.

Pruitt Faces Revolt in Trump Country—Not being obsequious to the ethanol industry might even get Scott Pruitt a tongue lashing from Iowa’s crankiest codger Chuck Grassley.  It would be funny and ironic if this was the battlefield that Scott Pruitt’s EPA career ended upon.

Even Scott Pruitt’s Friends Have Given Up on Him—Granted, a more pressing political crisis has been crowding out all other news right now but the chorus calling for Scott Pruitt’s ouster is getting louder.  It should be easy to slide him out of town on his lotion covered rear end.

Trump’s EPA Greenlighted a Pesticide That Harms Kids’ Brains. Hawaii Just Said, “Hell No.”—It is like there is a sign over the White House that reads, “Big Business, whatever you want we will do it.  MAGA!”  Seriously, is there any thought behind any decision other than money?

Abandoned Gas Wells Aren’t Adequately Managed—Is anyone actually surprised that oil and gas companies do not do a good job of managing wells once production has ceased?  What are the actual repercussions or damages that these companies face for doing a crap job?

Americans Spend 7% Of Income On Gasoline—It’s summer, so it is summer driving season.  Seven percent seems like a lot.  If only there was a way to get around without using gasoline?

What if Canada had Spent $200bn on Wind Energy Instead of Oil?—I do not like to spend a lot of time on “what ifs” but I found this compelling.

Concrete is the Stuff Civilization is Made Of. But for all its Blessings, There are Huge Environmental Costs—Do we ever sit down and think about the environmental and capital costs of covering everything in concrete?  The material is ubiquitous and I doubt anyone ever really thinks about it much more than that.

This Technology Could Fundamentally Change our Relationship to Electricity—The problem is that utilities are generally not rewarded for efficiency as a “cost plus” type business model.  Now if the government…sorry, I forgot what our government looks like right now.

Sucking Carbon Out of the Air Won’t Solve Climate Change—This is the technical wizard’s holy grail of climate change mitigation.  It is not going to alter the fundamental problem that we put too much carbon into the atmosphere, but it might be part of a near term solution set that allows us to bridge to a more sustainable future.

Most American Homes are Still Heated with Fossil Fuels. It’s Time to Electrify.—As someone who has solar panels, electric appliances including an electric dryer, and lives in a cold climate I do not know if the answer is to electrify our heating systems.  I believe that there are more cost effective ways to reduce our fossil fuel “load” that will return more greenhouse gas emission reduction.  Plus, it is hella easy to turn down your thermostat.

PR Firm Billed New Orleans Utility Almost $55,000 for Recruiting Power Plant Supporters—You have to love policies so popular that a utility is willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to bring in faux supporters.  Now, who is it that is hiring “crisis actors?”

How Can Marine Protected Areas Help Save Our Oceans?—I am sure that Trump will try and figure out a way to prevent any of this from happening as well because Obama designated a marine protected area.

Where Female Elephants Without Tusks Roam — and Poachers Stay Away—Life finds a way:

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Friday Linkage 3/10/2017

There will be no Friday Linkage next week since I will be in Colorado enjoying all that Beaver Creek has to offer a low-rent skier like myself.

On to the links…

Iowa Sees Second Warmest February in 145 Years—Nothing to see here, right?

These Photos Show How the EPA Transformed America—Now that the fox is in charge of the hen house it is important to remember what America was like before the EPA and other agencies focused on cleaning our air and water.  No one wants to bring disco back and no one wants to bring 1960s style pollution back either.

Scientists Are Standing Up to Trump Because They’ve Always Stood Up to Bullshit—The right wing loves people to be active in politics as long as they agree with their narrow world view and, generally, assume positions that are free from a factual basis.  “But, Jesus said so in the Bible!”  Scientists and scholars are duty bound to resist this shit.

Yet Another Energy Company Bails On Canadian Tar Sands Oil — Is Koch Next?—Tar sands are too expensive to extract under the current market conditions, too dirty for most people to accept as a fuel source, and stuck in Canada.  So why exactly are people in the fossil fuel industry and the White House so hell bent on the Keystone XL pipeline?

California Just Hit an Incredible Solar Power Milestone—It was for just a moment, but California was producing some serious solar power in the middle of the day.

Colorado’s Solar Power Capacity Jumped 70 Percent in 2016—The best part for me is that even though Colorado added 70% more capacity its relative ranking compared to other states feel because it did not add enough capacity.  When you add 70% more capacity in one year and lose ground you know that something is happening that is going to be hard to stop.

Solar Now Cheapest Electricity Option On Average In 58 Emerging Economies—The new guard of electricity is here and it is based on the sun.  These countries have no incentive to build out a fossil fuel based grid because they have no capital investment tied to legacy systems.

Chinese Coal Draw-Down Gathers Pace—China is always the savior of some down-on-its-luck industry.  Guess what?  China does not want our coal anymore.

Coder Creates Ultimate Tesla Model S + Home Solar Data Visualization Tool—I cannot create the fuel for my truck at home, but I could create the fuel for a Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt at home.  The future seems to be happening right now.

America’s Television Graveyards—When the apocalypse comes in the next couple of years I imagine people will roam the shattered United States and happen upon one of these warehouses full of old CRTs.  It will be a gigantic metaphor for how we got into this mess.

General Mills Boosts Eco-Friendly Grain Kernza—What if we could replace a portion of destructive annual wheat production with perennial Kernza?  What is wide strips of Kernza were planted along streams to slow runoff and deter erosion?  Imagine the potential.

Climate Ecoforestry—Let’s look to restorative ecology to rebuild our planet’s lost resilience.

This Man is Cloning Old-Growth Redwoods and Planting them in Safe Places—Imagine efforts like this replicated on a larger, dare I say nationally mobilized scale, and imagine what we could achieve in a short period of time.  This requires no new technology or process.  It would simply require political will and capital.

You’re Using Recipes Wrong—I have this complaint with cookbooks and recipes because I feel like I am buying bespoke ingredients only to repeat effort time and time again.  Ugh.  An efficient kitchen in terms of time and money should be one of my 2017 goals.

Friday Linkage 4/17/2015

Hillary is in. Marco is in. I am sure that we are going to here from Chris Christie and a host of Republican also rans…Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum really do not have a lot on the calendar about now do they?

The crazy thing is that the national media cares more about this story than any single person in Iowa save for the self-important campaign operatives who act like gatekeepers to the caucuses. Ahhh, the summer before a caucus in Iowa is a beautiful time.

On to the links…

Ocean Acidification Triggered Devastating Extinction—Here is a simple concept: If the oceans die, we probably die. Save the oceans and you have a good chance of saving the human race plus a good chunk of this planet’s biodiversity. Otherwise it is game freakin’ over.

Overfishing in U.S. Waters Hits All-Time Low—We can make policy that helps the oceans. It’s just too bad no one seems to focus on some of the limited success that we have had in modulating our piss poor behavior.

Permafrost’s Ticking “Carbon Bomb” may Never Truly Detonate—A slow leak is better than an explosion, so to speak, but this is still a major problem when considering how to combat global climate change.

Forest Service Sticks up for Coal Mining on Roadless Lands—Why? Why would an agency of the federal government actually encourage coal companies to destroy wilderness in the pursuit of a fossil fuel that is in its long cycle death throes? Oh wait, it’s the Forest Service. This should be their logo:

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Are You Ready for Corn-Powered Hydrogen Fuel Cells?—Hydrogen powered transportation was a bait-and-switch from the Bush administration almost as good as Iraq having WMDs. If hydrogen, which is really just an energy storage mechanism, can be produced in a way that is not energy intensive it is a good solution.

Striking Chart Shows Why Solar Power will Take Over the World—This chart reminds me of those I used to see in the late-1990s showing processor power and cost. It was a way to explain the previously unimaginable proliferation of computer controlled objects. Guess what, solar is coming like a freight train of awesome:

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U.S. Predicted To Be Net Energy Exporter In Next Decade; First Time Since 1950s—Maybe we should not drill, baby drill and keep some of that energy in the ground for the time being.

In The Midst Of Toxic Oil Spill, Vancouver Announces It Will Go 100 Percent Renewable—This is not some small city in the sun belt of the U.S., but a major Canadian metropolis in a the somewhat overcast Pacific Northwest. Granted, it’s over the next 20 years but if it happens it will be a big deal.

100% Renewable Electricity By 2050 Possible In France—If it’s possible by 2050, why not get it done sooner? What are the obstacles and how do we overcome them?

Investment In Australian Renewable Energy Industry Plummets 90%–Here is why we cannot get to 100% renewables sooner. Policy makers screw up, insert uncertainty into the planning process, and slow down progress. What a joke.

Dubai Will Invest $3 Billion To Boost Solar Power Project Capacity To 3 GW—Sometimes all it takes is some oil money to get the job done.

4 Ways to Invest in the Low-Carbon Economy—Our personal investment choices are rarely something we think about as a tool against climate change but our 401ks and IRAs may have thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be focused on positive investments for the planet.

How Refrigeration Determined What We Eat and Where We Live—Trust me, millions of people would not move to the Sun Belt if there was no ice cream or ice cold air conditioning.

How to Successfully Grow an Herb Garden—It’s that time of year when everyone has grand garden plans, including myself. Maybe a little herb garden is all we really need:

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Friday Linkage 12/5/2014

Work travel really sends me for a loop. I leave for Thanksgiving break and before I sit down in the office again it is December. Pretty soon I will be hurtling down I-80 towards Colorado and Christmas vacation in the mountains.

On to the links…

Fracking Boom could go Bust Faster than Obama Thinks—There are a lot of energy experts who believe the recent surge in U.S. fossil fuel production via fracking is going to be a short lived moment. Basically, it might buy us until 2020 when fuel prices will again soar. Time to invest this dividend into solar!

Tar Sands Development Financially Unsustainable, Report Shows—Dirty, dirty tar sands oil is only economically viable if the price for oil stays above $95 a barrel. At current prices the production is a big time money loser and investors might lose out big. If that happens it will be decades before the industry recovers. See what Texas looked like in the mid-1980s.

India’s Installed Solar Power Capacity Crosses 3 GW—The expansion of solar is down this year compared to last—800MW versus 1GW—but India is making some real strides in deploying grid scale solar.

China’s Solar Energy Progress Sputters—Everything seems to be bigger in China these days, but solar power installations seem to be falling short of stated goals. Last year 13 gigawatts of solar came on line and that number falls to 10 gigawatts in 2014, which is a reduction from a goal of 15 gigawatts. Still, it’s a lot of solar power.

World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Is Now In Operation—The Topaz project features over 9 million solar panels and has the capacity to generate 550 megawatts of carbon free juice. Damn. I want one.

Animated Guide To The Solar Rooftop Revolution—Rooftop solar is coming to a roof near you. Distributed generation is an amazing trend that could really change the face of the utility market forevermore.

New Solar Cell Efficiency Record Set At 46%–Solar is getting cheaper because of better manufacturing, competition, and the constant drive to extract more energy from every speck of silicon. 46% efficiency is pretty amazing.

How Wind Energy Is Subsidizing Albertan Ratepayers—Yep, wind power was driving down the pool price for Alberta ratepayers.

Wind Industry Is An Economic Shot In The Arm—So, as the argument over the extension of the wind production tax credit wages in Washington maybe every politician who says they are concerned about jobs ought to consider the economic impact of the wind power industry.

Solar Uniquely Positioned to Help States Meet New Regulations—Solar is the way forward in reducing emissions. If we could replace coal megawatts for solar megawatts the impact would be huge. Smokestacks and mines or roofs and panels…your pick.

Florida Fails to Support Solar Energy for Homes and Businesses—Florida is pretty much the worst. If there is a policy that might help people or the environment you can rest assured that it will be dead in the water. It’s a swampy hell hole.

NextEra Buys Hawaii’s Biggest Utility To Study Renewable Energy in the Island State—NextEra is viewing Hawaii and its isolated grid as the perfect laboratory for the transition to clean energy. It also helps that executives will now get to make “business” trips to the islands.

Beyond-the-Grid Is Not Just About Light, It’s About Resiliency—Not being dependent on fragile centralized systems is a good strategy in a world that is going increasingly strange.

Antibacterial Soap Ingredient Triclosan now Linked to Liver Fibrosis—At what point does everyone just stop using triclosan? The stuff is not actually effective and it has a whole host of side effects.

How We Can Make the Food Supply Chain More Eco-Friendly—Marlyhurst University put together a nice little infographic showing the ways in which we can “green” the supply chain for our food:

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Friday Linkage 5/30/2014

This is going to be a short list of links because I am currently on a plane heading to Denver with my brother to spread my parents ashes near the Continental Divide. The upside to this depressing event is that I get to sample some great beers from Front Range brewers. More to come.

On to the links…

Obama to Unveil Rule to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions—With no action possible in Congress, the President will issue a new rule through the EPA under the Clean Air Act to, in essence, cut greenhouse gas emissions from coal fired power plants. Republicans will howl that this is an “imperial President,” but conveniently forget how much they liked the same kind of action under the second Bush. It’s called progress.

There is Still Hope for the Climate: Regional Cures for Planetary Fever—I do not know if I am so positive anymore, but some part of me hopes that we cobble together a patchwork of solutions that will avoid the absolute worst of climate change and leave it to our children to fix the mess. We suck as a species.

Wind Energy In 2013 Was Equivalent To Taking 20 Million Cars Off The Road—It’s amazing how much wind energy has been deployed in the United States. Now imagine if we could have a similar commitment to deploy residential solar at this level. Damn.

Ohio Is Poised To Be The First State To Roll Back Its Renewable Energy Standard—Just when you think you are making real progress, ass clowns like those in Ohio’s legislature, egged on by Republican a-hole Governor John Kasich, decided to gut the state’s RES. Progress be damned in the face of Koch money!

On the Road to Green Energy, Germany Detours on Dirty Coal—Following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the German government pledged to get the country out of the business of generating power from nuclear sources. While laudable it does mean that the country is going to have to turn to coal to meet its commitment.

‘A Government Of Thugs’: How Canada Treats Environmental Journalists—Apparently, my view of Canadians being easy going was dead wrong when it comes to the government’s treatment of environmental journalists and activists. It’s an insidious thing for a government that claims to be transparent to act as an agent for private development, but it is the nature of our modern governments that this is the case. If you do not believe this to be true, just review the case of Tim DeChristopher.

Resiliency+: Distributed Generation and Microgrids Can Keep Lights On During the Next Storm—Every time there is a storm or major power disruption on the east coast of the United States this topic comes up because somewhere in the center of the problem was a microgrid powered by renewables that kept the lights on. Maybe it’s a trend now.

Turbines Popping Up on New York Roofs, Along With Questions of Efficiency—I guess that in order to attract trust fund hipsters a developer needs to include some sort of greenwashing for their project.

The Time My Mom Got Me A Tiger—It’s not what you think. This video talks about the problem of captive tigers being used for photo opportunities and the chance he got to “adopt” his tiger.

Strange Brews: The Genes of Craft Beer—I brew a lot of beer and the science of yeast really escapes me. It seems that it does not make a difference in some recipes and, yet, in others the difference is marked. What gives?

Chef Dan Barber on the Farm-to-Table Movement’s Next Steps—I don’t always agree with Dan Barber’s ideas about food as I find them to be difficult to scale in order to “feed the world” but nonetheless he is an important influence in how the system develops.

Solar Roadways: A Modest Proposal?—I love seeing this idea get press outside of the normal “green” outlets. One thing lost in the discussion about these panels is that it does not even have to be used on roads to be really effective. How many square feet of driveway, sidewalk, and parking lot exist in just the united states that could be covered with the material? Just saying.

Ford’s Customers Tested Its New Trucks for Two Years, and They Didn’t Even Know It—I am watching the development of the next generation Ford F-150 with a lot of interest. For one, I own an F-150 for work. Second, it’s the best selling vehicle in America so any technology deployed successfully on this platform will likely find itself adopted across a broad swath of vehicles. Of most interest is the new aluminum body, replacing traditional steel, that is purported to cut over 700 pounds off the weight of the truck in the interest of fuel economy. Interesting.